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Avery  Architectural  and  Fine  Arts  Library 
Gift  of  Seymour  B.  Di  rst  Old  York  Library 







November  30.  1937 

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The  City  of  New  York 
Department  of  Parks 











Hon.  Fiorello  H.  LaGuardia  November  50,  1937 

Mayor  of  the  City  of  New  York 
City  Hall,  New  York,  N.  Y. 

Dear  Sir: 

In  a  recent  opinion  on  the  redistribution  of  functions  under  the  new  City  Charter,  the  Corporation 
Counsel  has  ruled  that  the  beaches  and  boardwalks  at  Coney  Island,  Rockaway  and  South  Beach, 
Staten  Island,  now  under  the  jurisdiction  of  the  respective  Borough  Presidents  of  Brooklyn,  Queens  and 
Richmond,  are  transferred  to  the  Department  of  Parks  on  January  1st,  1938. 

At  the  present  time  the  Park  Department  has  a  small  park  area  at  Coney  Island  known  as  Seaside 
Park  including  the  old  Dreamland  parking  field,  which  has  been  converted  into  a  playground.  All  the 
rest  of  the  beach  and  the  entire  boardwalk  have  been  under  the  control  of  the  Borough  President  of 
Brooklyn.  At  Rockaway,  the  Park  Department  has  had  jurisdiction  over  Jacob  Riis  Park  and  the  Marine 
Parkway,  and  also  over  a  comparatively  small  section  of  the  beach  and  boardwalk  between  Beach  1 26th 
Street  and  Beach  110th  Street.  At  South  Beach  the  Park  Department  has  had  no  responsibility,  the 
park  beaches  being  located  to  the  southwest  at  Great  Kills  and  Wolfe's  Pond. 

The  transfer  of  the  Borough  Presidents'  beaches  to  the  Park  Department  will  bring  with  it  heavy  re- 
sponsibilities, because  these  beaches  and  boardwalks  were  never  properly  planned,  and  cannot  under 
present  conditions  be  properly  maintained  and  operated. 

The  his  tory  of  the  beach  at  Coney  Island  is  a  sad  commentary  on  the  lack  of  foresight  of  the  citizens 
of  some  of  the  communities  now  making  up  the  City  of  New  York.  The  lands  and  lands  under  water 
originally  belonged  to  the  old  town  of  Gravesend,  and  they  were  sold  off  about  the  year  1 878,  and  almost 
always  on  the  basis  of  some  deal  with  private  interests,  and  always  at  a  preposterously  low  price.  After 
these  immensely  valuable  and  indispensable  community  assets  had  been  virtually  given  away,  transpor- 
tation improved,  summer  colonies  sprang  up,  and  an  all-year-round  population  followed.  Later  the  pub- 
lie  had  to  buy  back  or  condemn  at  fabulous  expense  a  small  and  restricted  part  of  what  it  should  never 
have  given  away. 

A  review  of  the  history  of  acquisition  of  land  by  the  city,  and  construction  of  improvements  in  Coney 
Island,  indicates  that  the  public  authorities  were  actuated  more  by  a  desire  to  please  the  large  property 
owners  than  to  provide  proper  accommodations  for  the  public.  The  boardwalk  was  constructed  too  near 
the  water  without  providing  any  play  areas  on  the  north  side.  The  intensive  use  of  the  private  play  areas 
at  Brighton  Beach  and  the  park  area  west  of  the  Municipal  Bathhouse  shows  the  need  for  more  space 
dedicated  to  play.  When  sand  was  pumped  in  to  increase  the  width  of  the  beach,  instead  of  obtaining 
good  white  material,  the  contractor  was  allowed  to  deposit  brown  sand  on  the  beach.  Streets  were  cut 
through  which  dead-ended  at  the  boardwalk,  and  which  are  no  good  as  traffic  arteries  and  are  not  proper 
parking  spaces.  The  zoning  ordinance  was  adapted  to  the  wishes  of  the  property  owners  rather  than  to 
the  requirements  of  the  public  welfare.  For  years  Coney  Island  was  known  principally  as  an  artificial 


amusement  center,  but  of  late  years  the  mechanical  amusement  business  Ins  been  gradually  decreasing. 
Bathing  establishments  also  have  been  subject  to  this  trend. 

From  the  point  of  view  of  responsible  real  estate  owners,  bank  and  other  [ending  institutions,  corpora- 
tions rendering  essential  services,  substantial  business  people  with  a  continuing  year-round  stake  in  the 
community,  not  to  speak  ol  the  city  s  financial  and  tax-collecting  agencies,  the  decline  of  actual  as  distin- 
guished from  assessed  valuations  ol  property,  and  other  unmistakable  signs  of  decay,  are  becoming  more 
and  more  disquieting.  There  is  always  a  tendency  in  such  situations  to  deny  or  evade  the  lacts;  to  attempt 
to  block  or  bluster  it  through;  or  to  blame  everything  on  the  depression,  and  assume  that  generally  im- 
proved conditions  will  be  reflected  at  the  beaches.  The  absentee  landlord,  ol  course,  cares  nothing  about 
the  health  of  his  community,  but  is  only  concerned  with  getting  a  return  on  his  investment,  and  he  has  done 
irreparable  damage  in  recent  years  by  destroying  natural  advantages  for  quick  and  easy  returns.  The 
blindness  of  responsible  local  people  and  institutions  is  much  harder  to  explain.  I  he  city  has  contributed 
its  part  to  the  breakdown  by  pyramiding  assessments  to  preposterous  heights,  thus  making  it  difficult,  if 
not  impossible,  to  make  proper  adjustments  as  the  gap  between  fictitious  and  real  values  becomes  broader 
and  more  menacing.  Similarly,  it  has  been  more  and  more  diffh  nit  lor  the  city  to  enforce  proper  standards 
for  sanitation,  health,  housing,  fire,  policing,  transportation  and  traffic,  because  the  enforcement  of  such 
standards  would  make  it  even  more  difficult  lor  owners  to  make  their  property  pay,  and  to  avoid  tax  liens. 
As  this  and  other  resorts  like  it  run  down,  the  newer  and  better-run  bea<  hes  like  Jacob  Riis  Park,  Orch  aid 
Beach,  the  state  and  county  beaches  in  the  suburbs,  and  the  better-run  private  beaches,  have  drawn 
away  from  the  older  resorts  like  Coney  Island  and  Roc  kaway,  many  ol  the  old  patrons  who  could  afford 
to  go  elsewhere,  and  who  prefer  less  crowded,  more  orderly,  and  better  planned  shore  resorts. 

There  is  no  use  bemoaning  the  end  of  the  old  Coney  Island  fabled  in  song  and  story.  I  he  important 
thing  is  not  to  proceed  in  the  mistaken  belief  that  it  can  be  revived.  There  must  be  a  new  and  very  dif- 
ferent resort  established  in  its  place.  The  same  applies  to  Rockaway  Beach  and  to  South  Beach.  I  he 
value  of  these  beaches  and  boardwalks  is  still  incalculable,  and  can  be  increased  rather  than  diminished 
by  forthright  and  intelligent  action.  There  must  be  more  land  in  public  ownership,  less  overcrowding, 
stricter  enforcement  of  ordinances  and  rules,  better  transportation  and  traffic  arrangement,  less  mechan- 
ical noise-making  and  amusement  devices  and  side  shows,  and  a  more  orderly  growth  of  year-round  resi- 
dents, and  an  increasing  respect  for  permanent,  as  distinguished  from  temporary  values.  All  this  can  be 
brought  about  only  by  the  close  cooperation  of  city  officials  and  responsible  local  groups  and  interests. 
This  will  not  be  accomplished  overnight,  but  only  over  a  period  of  several  years.  Public  money  alone  will 
not  do  it,  and  there  will  have  to  be  public  sacrifices  on  the  part  of  private  interests  looking  to  long-range 
rather  than  to  immediate  results. 

Any  future  plan  for  Coney  Island  must  be  based  on  the  supposition  that  most  of  the  summer  patrons 
will  come  by  rapid  transit;  that  they  will  have  comparativel  V  little  money  to  spend  on  mechanical  amuse- 
ments, and  that  more  and  more  they  will  come  for  exercise  and  healthy  outdoor  recreation. 

At  Rock  away  the  entire  westerly  end  of  the  peninsula  was  at  one  time  owned  by  the  State  of  New 
York,  but  through  the  bungling  of  public  officials,  private  interests  managed  to  tie  the  property  up  in  liti- 
gation and  finally  obtained  an  act  of  the  legislature  settling  the  litigation  in  their  favor  for  $20,000.  Later 
the  State  paid  over  $2,000,000  for  the  acquisition  of  the  land  conveved  to  theU  nited  States,  which  is  now 
maintained  by  the  Federal  Government  as  Fort  Tilden,  and  which  was  only  a  part  of  what  the  State 
had  formerly  owned.  When  plans  were  made  for  the  city  to  acquire  the  beach  at  Rockaway  extending 
from  Jacob  Riis  Park  to  the  Nassau  County  line,  private  owners  had  sustained  such  losses  by  encroach- 
ments caused  bv  ocean  storms,  and  values  were  so  reduced,  that  estimates  were  made  that  the  whole 
acquisition  would  cost  the  city  $1,250,000.  W  hen  the  condemnation  awards  were  made  they  amounted 


to  $16,000,000.  On  appeal  these  were  reduced  to  about  $12,000,000,  but  in  the  meantime  the  interest 
had  accumulated  so  that  the  cost  to  the  city  was  still  close  to  $16,000,000. 

The  Town  of  Hempstead  at  the  beginning  of  this  century,  by  votes  of  the  people,  conveyed  to  real 
estate  operators  the  whole  of  Long  Beach  for  about  $225,000.  The  same  thing  would  probably  have 
happened  at  Jones  Beach  if  the  Long  Island  State  Park  Commission  had  not  come  along  with  a  plan 
for  developing  this  under  public  auspices. 

Excepting  Jones  Beach,  and  a  few  other  well-planned  shore  developments,  the  history  of  public 
beaches  here  and  elsewhere  on  the  Atlantic  seaboard  has  followed  the  same  unfortunate  pattern.  Instead 
of  obtaining  an  adequate  amount  of  beach  and  setting  the  boardwalk  well  back  of  the  high  water  mark 
and  controlling  all  frontage  on  it,  the  municipality  acquired  only  a  narrow  shoestring  of  sand,  put  the 
boardwalk  on  top  of  high  water,  and  permitted  the  entire  frontage  on  the  outside  of  the  boardwalk  to  be 
in  private  hands.  The  boardwalks  were  almost  always  placed  so  close  to  the  ocean  that  no  adequate 
space  was  left  for  bathing,  making  it  necessary  to  build  expensive  jetties  to  protect  what  little  beach 
remained.  Not  only  did  a  most  uneven  development  spring  up  adjacent  to  the  boardwalk,  but  buildings 
were  so  constructed  that  there  were  entrances  to  stores  and  restaurants  under  the  boardwalk.  Little,  if 
any,  attention  was  paid  to  fire  hazards  or  health  rules.  Shacks  of  all  kinds  were  built  just  back  of  the 
boardwalk  for  summer  use,  some  of  them  nothing  more  or  less  than  tent  colonies.  Amusement  and  catch- 
penny devices  of  all  kinds  were  installed  adjacent  to  the  boardwalk.  For  a  time  some  of  these  beaches 
flourished.  Then  they  began  to  go  downhill,  and  the  more  substantial  buildings  and  enterprises  suffered 
along  with  the  poorer  ones. 

I  have  given  most  careful  study  to  the  three  beaches  now  being  transferred  to  the  Park  Department. 
The  drastic  changes  which  would  be  required  to  bring  about  a  real  reconstruction  of  Coney  Island  on 
sound  planning  principles,  have  been  found  too  expensive  to  carry  out.  The  sums  required  to  wipe  out 
all  the  frontage  on  the  boardwalk,  move  it  back,  and  provide  adequate  play  and  parking  spaces  and 
municipal  bathhouses,  is  simply  beyond  the  means  of  the  city  at  this  time,  and  I  have  not  been  able  to 
discover  any  basis  on  which  an  Authority  could  be  set  up  for  Coney  Island  to  issue  bonds  on  anything 
approaching  a  self-liquidating  basis.  The  plan  proposed  for  Coney  Island  is  a  modest  one,  which  can 
meet  only  the  most  urgent  needs  of  the  situation. 

At  Rockaway,  the  cost  of  solving  the  beach,  boardwalk,  parkway,  highway,  bridge  access  and  parking 
problems  is  not  nearly  so  high,  and  while  a  complete  solution  on  anything  approaching  a  sound  busi- 
ness basis  is  impossible  at  this  time,  a  compromise  can,  I  believe,  be  worked  out  which  will  go  a  long  way 
toward  producing  a  satisfactory  and  orderly  development  for  both  local  people  and  visitors. 

At  South  Beach,  Staten  Island,  there  is  still  an  opportunity  to  clean  up  the  entire  problem,  wipe  out 
undesirable  private  ownership  back  of  the  boardwalk,  establish  adequate  highway  approaches  and 
parking  fields,  and  provide  for  future  bathhouse  and  recreational  developments,  all  of  which  should 
have  been  done  before  the  boardwalk  was  built. 

The  Coney  Island  plan  involves  straight  city  expenditures.  The  only  substantial  financial  return  will 
be  from  parking  charges.  The  same  thing  applies  to  South  Beach.  The  Rockaway  plan,  on  the  other 
hand,  will  require  both  city  money  and  additional  funds  from  the  sale  of  revenue  bonds. 

In  the  following  pages  the  three  plans  are  outlined. 


The  most  serious  problems  at  Coney  Island  are  overcrowding  at  tbe  public  beach,  inadequate  play 
areas,  and  lack  of  parking  space. 

Between  Stillwell  Avenue  and  Ocean  Parkway  the  boardwalk  is  so  close  to  the  ocean  that  practically 
no  beach  remains  at  high  tide,  and  comparatively  little  at  low  tide.  Here  it  is  proposed  to  acquire  land 
ranging  up  to  a  depth  of  400  feet  of  frontage  north  of  the  boardwalk,  to  move  the  boardwalk  back  a 


maximum  of  300  leel,  to  retain  about  100  feet  north  ol  the  boardwa  Ik  lor  {James  and  protection,  and  to 
widen  the  beach  with  new  fill.  Exbibi  ts  attached  hereto  show  what  is  proposed  to  be  done  li  tbis  plan  is 
carried  out,  tbis  most  congested  portion  of  tbe  beeich  will  be  more  tban  doubled  in  area.  Tbe  new  bea<  h 
supplied  will  amount  to  about  15%  of  the  total  beach  at  Coney  Island,  and  will  alford  accommodations 
for  thousands  of  people,  and  the  present  congestion  will  be  greatly  relieved. 

As  to  the  area  east  of  the  Municipal  Bathhouse,  it  is  proposed  to  develop  it  in  the  same  way  as  the 
playground  to  the  west.  As  to  parking,  it  is  proposed  to  acquire  ten  acres  for  a  parking  field  north  of 
Surf  Avenue  at  some  location  not  involving  frontage  on  the  main  highway,  but  accessible  to  main  streets. 
This  parking  held  will  bring  a  substantial  return  to  the  city,  and  will  help  pay  the  cost  of  the  operation 
of  the  beach.  It  is  possible  that  this  parking  space  may  in  part  be  provided  by  cooperating  with  the  Board 
of  Transportation,  which  has  planned  a  station  for  the  city-owned  subwav  at  Conev  Island. 

The  ab  ove  plan  offers  some  solution  of  the  bad  conditions  prevailing  today  at  this  beach.  If  anything 
is  really  to  be  accomplished,  a  strict  enforcement  of  police,  building,  fire  and  health  regulations  on  the 
beach  and  adjacent  areas  must  be  provided. 

The  estima  ted  cost  of  the  land  taking  above  outlined  is  $2,850,000  and  for  parking  spaces  about 
$1,000,000  the  cost  of  demolishing  the  old  buildings  on  this  property,  relocating  the  boardwalk,  pro- 
viding recreation  areas,  and  improving  the  jetties  and  the  beach  is  $1,500,000. 


The  most  serious  problems  at  Rockaway  Beach  are  lack  of  sufficient  traffic  arteries,  lack  of  parking 
spaces,  and  the  necessity  for  widening  the  beach  area  and  protecting  it  Irom  erosion.  The  present  dilapi- 
dated buildings  adjoining  the  boardwalk,  and  the  crowded  old  frame  tenements  and  rooming  houses  on 
the  streets  leading  to  the  boardwalk,  are  a  fire  and  health  menace.  Street  congestion  is  so  bad  at  times  that 
fire  apparatus  answering  alarms  is  brought  to  a  standstill. 

On  many  occasions  during  the  summer,  thousands  of  cars  are  backed  up  for  miles  because  of  the 
bottle  -necks  on  the  Cross  Bay  Boulevard,  the  numerous  crossings  at  grade  on  the  Long  Island  Rail  road 
along  the  entire  Rockaway  peninsula,  and  the  lack  of  adequate  east  and  west  highwav  accommodations. 

The  plan  at  Rockaway  Beach  calls  for  a  widening  of  the  bridge  over  Beach  Channel  on  the  Cross  Bay 
Boulevard,  and  the  elevation  of  the  Long  Island  Railroad  so  as  to  eliminate  all  grade  crossings.  A  plaza 
is  proposed  connecting  the  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  with  the  boardwalk,  and  a  new  east  and  west  artery 
along  the  north  side  of  the  boardwalk  from  Beach  109th  Street  to  Beach  73rd  Street.  This  calls  for  an 
acquisition  of  land  adjacent  to  the  boardw  alk  to  a  depth  of  200  feet,  100  feet  of  which  wi  II  be  left  for  the 
protection  of  the  boardwraIk  and  the  beach  for  game  areas,  and  for  the  ultimate  construction  of  two. 
municipal  bathhouses  with  adjoining  parking  spaces.  One  hundred  feet  will  be  used  for  a  marginal 
boulevard  with  two  roadways  separated  by  a  center  panel,  and  with  a  sidewalk  on  the  north. 

Despite  the  jetties  all  along  the  beach,  erosion  has  occurred,  and  ultimately  the  beach  will  have  to  be 
increased  in  area  by  building  longer  jetties  and  pumping  in  fill.  The  city  has  just  let  a  contract  for  rebuild- 
ing the  jetties  between  Beach  80th  and  Beach  60th  Streets,  which  will  take  care  of  the  worst  area  for  the 

It  is  proposed  to  expedite  the  elimination  of  grade  crossings  on  the  railroad  line  through  the  Rocka- 
ways  by  obtaining  for  this  purpose  100  per  cent  State  funds  by  an  amendment  to  the  Constitution  to  be 
proposed  at  the  Constitutional  Convention  next  summer.  This  amendment  will  eliminate  the  railroad 
and  city  s  contribution  and  will  facilitate  the  acquisition  of  the  line  by  the  city.  It  is  also  proposed  to 
acquire  parking  fields  at  appropriate  distances  east  and  west  of  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  to  accommodate  a 
total  of  about  2,000  cars,  and  to  provide  for  parking  cars  under  the  entire  elevated  structure. 

It  is  estimated  that  by  placing  a  toll  on  the  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  sufficient  moneys  can  be  obtained  to 


finance  a  substantial  part  of  these  improvements. This  is  predicated  on  the  assumption  that  it  will  he 
difficult  to  obtain  moneys  for  the  widening  of  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  and  the  construction  of  the  traffic 
plaza  in  any  other  way.  Marine  Parkway  Authority  is  collecting  tolls  on  the  bridge  from  Flatbush  Ave- 
nue to  Jacob  Riis  Park  to  pay  interest  and  amortize  a  loan  of  $6,000,000  used  to  construct  the  bridge 
and  incidental  improvements.  It  is  estimated  that  by  extending  the  powers  of  the  Authority  and  authoriz- 
ing it  to  collect  tolls  at  the  reconstructed  Beach  Channel  Bridge  on  Cross  Bay  Boulevard,  its  bond  issue 
may  be  increased  sufficiently  to  provide  the  funds  to  widen  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  Bridge,  and  to  construct 
the  other  improvements  above-mentioned.  It  may  also  be  desirable  to  combine  the  Henry  Hudson  Park- 
way Authority  with  the  extended  Marine  Parkway  Authority  so  that  all  three  bridges  and  their  related 
improvements  will  be  covered  by  one  bond  issue. 

The  estimated  cost  of  the  land  necessary  for  the  plaza  from  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  to  the  boardwalk 
is  $750,000.  The  cost  of  the  land  necessary  for  the  road  bordering  on  the  boardwalk  is  $3,600,000.  The 
estimated  cost  of  land  for  the  parking  fields  recommended  is  $675,000.  The  present  plan  to  extend  Beach 
Channel  Drive  and  widenings  of  Beach  109th  and  Beach  73rd  Street  now  shown  on  the  City  Map 
should  be  expedited.  The  cost  of  constructing  the  widening  of  Cross  Bay  Boulevard,  and  eliminating  the 
grade  crossing  at  its  southerly  end  is  $2,500,000.  The  cost  of  reconstructing  the  plaza  is  $500,000,  and 
the  cost  of  constructing  the  road  along  the  north  side  of  the  boardwalk  and  improving  the  beach  is 
$1,500,000.  It  is  proposed  that  the  land  cost  be  paid  by  the  city,  and  the  construction  cost,  $4,500,000,  be 
provided  by  bond  issue  of  an  Authority,  as  above  outlined. 

The  whole  Rockaway  peninsula  should  be  immediately  placed  within  the  fire  limits,  as  plans  have 
been  and  will  continue  to  be  filed  for  the  construction  and  reconstruction  of  dangerous  frame  structures, 
such  as  those  destroyed  in  two  recent  fires.  A  considerable  part  of  the  area  between  the  boardwalk  and 
Rockaway  Beach  Boulevard  should  be  rezoned  for  residential  purposes,  as  there  is  entirely  too  much 
property  zoned  for  business  purposes.  Parking  and  police  regulations  should  be  strictly  enforced  on  the 
publicly  owned  areas.  It  will  be  necessary,  also,  to  provide  strict  enforcement  of  police,  fire  and  health 
regulations  on  the  properties  in  private  ownership. 

When  the  city  acquires  the  Rockaway  branch  of  the  Long  Island  Railroad  and  the  fare  is  reduced, 
there  can  be  no  question  but  that  the  number  of  excursionists  coming  for  the  day,  as  well  as  the  number 
of  summer  and  all-the-year-round  residents  will  increase  greatly.  The  last  census  showed  that  Queens 
County  is  the  second  fastest  growing  county  in  the  United  States,  and  improved  transit  cannot  fail  to 
draw  more  people  to  the  Rockaways.  Street  traffic  and  beach  conditions  will  become  intolerable  unless 
additional  roadways,  parking  spaces  and  a  wider  beach  area  are  now  provided. 


As  early  as  1934,  I  protested  vigorously  against  the  development  of  South  Beach  in  the  interest  of 
local  real  estate  developers,  and  declined  to  consider  the  boardwalk  scheme  when  it  was  proposed  to  me 
by  local  real  estate  promoters.  Subsequently  when  the  Commissioners  of  the  Land  Office  at  Albany 
asked  my  opinion  as  to  the  granting  of  state  land  under  water  for  this  project,  I  strongly  advised  against 
it.  When  the  State  granted  the  lands  under  water,  I  protested  to  at  least  two  of  the  Federal  Works 
Progress  Administrators  against  the  use  of  relief  funds  to  build  the  boardwalk  and  beach  under  the  con- 
ditions fixed  by  the  promoters  in  dedicating  their  frontage  to  the  city. 

In  communications  to  the  Federal  Administrators  in  1935,  I  made  this  statement,  the  truth  of  which 
can  be  fully  realized  today: 

"All  boardwalks  ol  this  kind  have  For  iheir  purposeleaving  the  public  only  a  narrow  and  often  sub- 
merged strip  of  sand  between  high  and  low  water  at  the  outside  of  the  boardwalk,  and  permitting  private 
owners  to  capitalize  all  the  Irontage  on  the  other  side  by  building  shops,  cheap  hotels,  restaurants, 
bathing  pavilions,  and  even  tent  colonies.  The  strip  of  beach  left  to  the  public  is  always  unmanageable. 


It  cannot  be  properly  policed  or  kept  clean.  It  is  overcrowded.  While  some  temporary  real  estate  values 
may  be  built  up  and  taxes  collected  by  the  city,  in  the  end  the  development  collapses  and  becomes  a 
mess.  This  is  the  history  of  every  beach  on  the  south  shore  ol  Long  Island  up  to  Jones  Beach.  The  pur- 
pose of  the  scheme  always  is  to  capitalize  every  square  inch  ol  privately-owned  property  on  the  inside 
ol  the  boardwalk,  and  to  leave  the  public  with  nothing  ol  permanent  value.  In  almost  all  cases  the  board- 
walk is  built  so  near  the  w  ater  that  it,  and  the  buildings  back  ol  it,  become  undermined,  and  then  the  whole 
undertaking  can  be  saved  only  by  the  building  of  enormously  expensive  and  ugly  jetties,  breakwaters 
and  groins. 

Previous  to  the  construction  of  this  there  bad  been  an  old  boardwalk  a  bout  100  b  et  w  est 
of  the  new  one.  This  was  bui  It  on  the  ground  level  and  is  now  in  such  bad  repair  thai  it  is  dangerous  to 
walk  upon.  It  is  flanked  on  the  west  side  by  old  dilapidated  amusement  places  constilule  a  fire  and 
health  menace.  These  buildings  are,  il  anything  in  worse  condition  than  those  at  Coney  Island  and 
Rockaway.  Despite  the  protests  I  pressed  and  the  conditions  existing  along  the  old  boardwalk,  the  new 
one  was  constructed  with  no  safeguards  against  another  like  development. 

There  are  already  striking  evidences  at  South  Beach  of  the  prophesied  deterioration  through  unla\  01 
able  private  developments  back  ol  the  boardwalk.  The  same  uncontrolled  development  is  about  to  take 
place  adjacent  to  this  boardwalk  which  bordered  the  old  one,  and  which  has  taken  place  at  Coney  Island 
and  Rockaway,  and  in  a  few  years  the  expense  of  getting  rid  of  these  eyesores,  nuisances  and  encroach- 
ments will  be  prohibitive.  The  only  answer  is  to  acquire  all  privately-owned  property  now  from  the  board- 
walk to  the  present  Seaside  Boulevard.  The  acquisition  of  this  property  will  protect  the  boardwalk,  pro- 
vide additional  beach,  afford  space  for  games,  and  substantial  parking  areas,  and  also  for  future  bath- 
houses, and  will  permit  the  widening  and  reconstruction  of  Seaside  Boulevard  as  a  genuine  100  foot 
marginal  roadway  with  separate  lanes. 

The  extension  of  Seaside  Boulevard  in  front  of  Fort  Wadsworth  should  also  be  considered  as  a  future 
development.  It  has  been  indicated  that  the  Army  would  not  object  to  a  new  bulkhead  and  drive  in  front 
of  this  Fort,  similar  to  the  one  constructed  across  the  way  at  Fort  Hamilton. 

All  this  property  should  be  placed  within  the  fire  limits  immediately,  and  the  property  on  the  west 
side  of  Seaside  Boulevard  should  be  rezoned  for  residential  purposes.  There  is  no  time  to  be  lost  as  the 
Board  of  Aldermen  has  already  refused  to  include  this  area  within  the  fire  limits,  and  the  property  owners 
are  insisting  on  the  right  to  put  the  old  type  of  dangerous  frame-constructed  amusement  places  adjacent 
to  the  new  boardw  alk. 

It  is  estimated  that  the  cost  of  the  land  taking  to  accomplish  the  plan  above  outlined  is  $600,000  and 
the  cost  of  demolition  of  old  buildings  and  necessary  construction  is  $675,000. 

The  present  conditions  at  these  three  beaches,  and  the  changes  proposed  in  this  memorandum,  are 
illustrated  by  maps,  photographs,  and  drawings  with  appropriate  captions.  I  believe  that  these  illustra- 
tions will  explain  better  than  a  more  detailed  report,  just  what  is  proposed. 

After  an  opportunity  has  been  afforded  for  public  discussion  of  these  recommendations,  proposals  look- 
ing toward  definite  action  will  be  submitted  to  you  and  to  the  Board  of  Estimate  and  Apportionment,  and 
if  financing  of  the  Rockaway  improvement  through  the  Marine  Parkway  Authority7  proves  to  be  sound, 
appropriate  amendments  will  be  prepared  to  the  Marine  Parkwav  Authoritv  Act. 

In  presenting  this  report  I  wish  to  acknowledge  the  invaluable  assistance  of  Raymond  P.  McNuIty. 
Counsel  to  the  Long  Island  State  Park  Commission,  A.  K.  Morgan,  Consulting  Engineer  and  former  Su- 
perintendent of  Jones  Beach  State  Park,  and  Sidney  Shapiro,  Assistant  Chief  Engineer  of  the  Long 
Island  State  Park  Commission,  as  well  as  that  of  the  executives  and  engineers  of  the  City  Park 

Verv  trulv  yours, 








A  new  wide  beach  extending  from  Stillwell  Avenue  to  Ocean  Parkway  will  be  provided 
by  relocating  tke  boardwalk  in  a  straight  line  as  shown  in  the  drawing.  Expanded  recre- 
ational areas  will  be  established  on  both  east  and  west  sides  of  the  present  municipal 
bathhouse,  the  front  of  which  will  be  rebuilt  to  accommodate  the  relocated  boardwalk. 


Tke  present  city  recreational  facilities  along  the  boardwalk  will 
be  expanded  under  tke  proposed  plan  and  similar  facilities  will  be 
provided  east  of  tbe  municipal  batbhouse  sbown  in  tbe  background. 


Tkis  general  air  view  of  Coney  Island  clearly  indicates  the 
haphazard  development  of  the  boardwa  Ik  in  the  past  with 
the  consequent  lack  of  width  of  beach. 


The  air  view  at  the  left  shows  the  beach  section  to  be  im- 
proved between  Stillwell  Avenue  and  Ocean  Parkway,  as 
indicated  in  the  development  plan  below.  The  lost  beach 
shown  in  the  foreground  of  the  air  view  on  he  left  will  be 
restored  under  the  proposed  plan. 


•    SROOKL YN  ■ 

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JCALC     in    fttT  COMMITT££     ON  dCACHSS 

These  unsightly  and  unsanitary  under-boardwalk  refresh- 
ment stands  will  he  eliminated. 

Section  of  boardwalk  to  he  relocated  and  improved. 

Over  16,000,000  persons  visit  Coney  Island  each  year  dur- 
ing trie  summer  season.  About  9,000,000  arrive  by  subway 
and  trolley,  and  7,000,000  by  automobile. 


Erosion  at  Coney  Island  for  years  has  been  the  cause  of  a 
great  loss  of  beach.  This  old  photograph  shows  the  Brighton 
Beach  Hotel,  originally  erected  600  feet  from  the  water, 
being  moved  back  from  the  eroded  shore  line  in  1888,  only 
ten  years  after  its  construction.  The  building  is  being  moved 
after  numerous  attempts  at  protection  from  the  sea  have 


The  heavy  black  line  indicates  the  route  of  the  boardwalk 
after  relocation.  A  large  amount  of  additional  beach  will  be 
made  available  under  this  plan. 


Congestion  along  Coney 
Island  s  narrow  beach 
front,  shown  at  left,  will 
he  considerably  relieved 
under  the  proposed  plan 
of  widening  the  beach. 
This  2/2  mile-long  strip 
of  beach  with  the  board- 
walk and  other  structures 
located  for  the  most  part 
along  the  edge  of  high 
water  provides  only  57 
acres  of  sand  beach  for 

An  equivalent  length  of  beach  at  Jones  Beach 
State  Park,  shown  below,  with  the  boardwalk  set 
back  a  safe  distance  from  the  surf,  provides  155 
acres  of  sand  beach,  with  capacity  for  three  times 
as  many  bathers. 





The  proposed  plan  of  improvement  at  Rock  away  Beach  includes  the  acquisition  of  land 
adjacent  to  the  boardwalk  to  a  depth  of  200  feet,  100  feet  of  which  will  be  used  for  the 
protection  of  the  boardwalk  and  for  play  areas  and  for  the  ultimate  construction  of  two 
municipal  bathhouses  with  adjoining  parking  spaces;  the  remaining  100  feet  will  be  used 
for  a  marginal  boulevard.  The  plan  also  includes  widening  of  Cross  Bay  Boulevard  over 
Beach  Channel  with  a  plaza  to  the  beach,  and  elevation  of  the  Long  Island  Railroad  tracks. 

[25  1 

Erosion  of  the  beach 
between  Beach  60th 
Street  and  Beach 
80th  Street  is  being 
combated  by  repairs 
and  extensions  to 


feecreationa/  and  landscaped  Area 

Sectional  plan  showing  present  and  proposed  conditions 
along  the  beach  front,  and  back  of  the  boardwalk. 



Typical  signs  and 
along  the  board- 
walk. These  will  be 
eliminated  under 
the  plan  of  develop- 

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Development  plan  showmg  .he  proposed  improvement  between  Beach  73rd  Street  and  Beach  109th  Street 
Marginal  boulevard,  recreational  areas  and  parking  spaces,  with  sites  for  future 
bathhouses  will  be  provided  north  of  the  boardwalk.  The  Long  Island  Railroad 
tracks  wdl  be  elevated  to  eliminate  the  grade  crossings,  making  the  space  under  the 
structure  available  ror  parking. 


A  dilapidated  tent  colony.  Intke  background  are  bungalows  and  flats. 


Location  plan  snowing  access  to  the  Rockaways  by  way  of  Cross  Bay 
Boulevard  and  the  new  Marine  Parkway  Bridge  completed  in  1937. 


This  air  view  shows  tKe  location  of  the  proposed  central 
plaza  to  connect  tKe  south  end  of  the  Cross  Bay  Boulevard 
bridge  with  the  new  marginal  boulevard  to  be  built  back  of 
the  boardwalk.  The  entire  block  from  bay  to  beach  between 
Beach  94th  Street  and  Beach  95th  Street  will  be  utilized 
for  the  plaza. 




The  present  roadway  over  this  bridge  is 
36  feet  wide  and  is  the  cause  of  a  serious 
traffic  bottleneck.  It  is  proposed  to  widen 
this  structure  to  eliminate  the  conges- 
tion. Over  five  million  cars  a  year  use 
Cross  Bay  Boulevard  traveling  to  and 
from  the  Rockaways. 


North  end  of  site  of  proposed 
Central  Plaza  extending  from 
Cross  Bay  Boulevard  to  trie 

Railroad  crossing  at  Beach 
Channel  Drive.  The  rapid 
transit  plan  would  provide 
for  elevation  of  the  tracks  and 
provide  parking  space  under 
the  elevated  structure. 

South  end  of  site  of  proposed 
Central  Plaza. 

.  4 


Elimination  of  the  railroad  crossings  by  building  an  elevated 
structure  for  rapid  transit  will  provide  badly  needed  parking 
space  under  the  elevated  tracks. 

Delation  of  The.  Project 
To  Highway  Systems 


C      3  TOTAL  ARJLA,  1H  5Q.  KAlULS 


V     /poruLKTtoR    n^o  -  i^-so 

TO  U.S- CENSUS- WlO-fl} 




The  South  Beach  boardwalk  is  40  feet  wide  and  7,000  feet 
long.  In  this  view,  existing  buildings  can  be  seen  about  50 
feet  back  of  the  boardwalk. 



The  south  half  of  the  beach  is  built  up  with  small  shacks 
shown  here. 


The  space  between 
the  present  build- 
ings and  the  new 
boardwalk  varies 
from  200  feet  to  50 
feet.  This  view  is 
taken  at  the  south 
end  of  the  area  look- 
ing north. 

Plan  of  proposed  development  showing  new  Seaside  Boule- 
vard, parking  spaces,  play  areas  and  sites  for  future  bath- 




Engraved  and  Printed 

The  Moore  Press,  Inc.,  New  York